Photo: Brittany Margulieux/Audubon Photography Awards

Mexican Jay

Aphelocoma wollweberi

Widespread in Mexico, this bird enters the United States in two areas: in much of southeastern Arizona and adjacent New Mexico, and in the Big Bend area of Texas. These two populations are not closely connected in Mexico, and they differ in a number of ways, including egg color, bill color of the young, voice, and aspects of nesting behavior. The nesting habits in Arizona are surprisingly complicated, various members of the flock being more or less involved with several nesting attempts at once.
Conservation status Still locally common in its limited U.S. range, with no obvious population trends.
Family Crows, Magpies, Jays
Habitat Open oak forests (Arizona); oak-pine woods (Texas). In Arizona, found in various oak woodlands, including those mixed with pines, in canyons and lower slopes of mountains (up to about 7,000'). Elsewhere in range, in Texas and Mexico, found in a variety of forests dominated by pines and oaks.
Widespread in Mexico, this bird enters the United States in two areas: in much of southeastern Arizona and adjacent New Mexico, and in the Big Bend area of Texas. These two populations are not closely connected in Mexico, and they differ in a number of ways, including egg color, bill color of the young, voice, and aspects of nesting behavior. The nesting habits in Arizona are surprisingly complicated, various members of the flock being more or less involved with several nesting attempts at once.
Photo Gallery
Feeding Behavior

Forages on the ground or in trees, usually in flocks. May visit large flowers in summer for nectar and insects. Rarely catches insects in flight. Breaks open acorns by holding them against branch with feet and pounding with bill. Harvests acorns in fall and buries them in ground, often remembering location and retrieving them later.


Eggs

4-5, sometimes 1-6. Eggs pale unmarked green in Arizona; in Texas, pale blue-green, usually with pale brownish spots. Incubation is by female only, about 18 days. Other adults in flock feed incubating female on nest. Young: Fed by both parents and by other members of flock. Young leave nest at about 25-28 days, may be fed for several weeks thereafter.


Young

Fed by both parents and by other members of flock. Young leave nest at about 25-28 days, may be fed for several weeks thereafter.

Diet

Omnivorous; mostly acorns, seeds, insects. Diet is largely acorns and seeds of pinyon pine from fall through winter, mostly insects in summer. Eats grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and many other insects; also lizards, small snakes, birds' eggs, rarely mice or birds.


Nesting

Flocks defend permanent territories that may remain the same for generations. Within each flock, 2-4 females may nest at one time; each is attended by one male, but may mate with other males in flock as well. In Texas, where flocks are smaller, may nest as isolated pairs. Nest site is in tree, often oak, juniper, or pine, usually well hidden among foliage. Height averages about 20' up, can be 6-60' above the ground. Nest (built by both sexes) is bulky cup of sticks and twigs, lined with fine rootlets and plant fibers.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Almost never moves away from immediate breeding territory; one of the most sedentary bird species in North America.

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Migration

Almost never moves away from immediate breeding territory; one of the most sedentary bird species in North America.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A loud shrink? or wenk? often repeated.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Crows, Magpies, Jays Perching Birds

Mexican Jay

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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